Refraining from spending money ain’t easy and what you do after a period of abstaining from something can make you feel like it was all a big waste of time. The reality is when most people finish a fast — whether abstaining from eating, spending or even watching too much TV — they often binge on the the thing that they gave up if they don’t give it up forever, make it a habit, or devise a management strategy.
We don’t want that to happen to us or to you during Operation Do Better. When we get our allowances back, we want to spend. And if we spend, we want to spend wisely.
We’ve come up with 50 ways to continue to be conscious savers and spenders:
- Taking a trip? Book a megabus ticket and stay with friends instead of flying and staying in a hotel.
- Cook at least enough for dinner and lunch the next day.
- Pack your lunch the night before. This protects you against that inevitable “I’m running late and don’t have time to pick my lunch.”
- Take public transportation more and drive less….ESPECIALLY if you’re in a city with excellent public transportation.
- At home mani/pedis
- Become good at doing your own hair. Ricks had been doing her own hair since she went natural nearly six years ago, and Reese has given up hair color which is the only thing she regularly went to a salon for. YouTube and blogs are super helpful. And remember: if you mess up, it’s ok. It’s hair. It grows back.
- Brazilian waxes are amazing….but they’re expensive. Ditch ’em. Shave.
- Eat at home before going out with friends. If they must go and you don’t want to leave have dessert instead.
- Drink at home. Depending on the wine, you can get a bottle for the same/similar cost of a glass or two at a bar.
- Bust out the iron and some Magic sizing instead of dry cleaning so much (*deep sigh* We both hate ironing).
- Get a library card for free books and DVDs.
- Take your money out of banks that charge too many fees.
- Ask for reduced interest rates on credit cards.
- Learn how to clip, use, and save with coupons.
- Sign up for free classes at REI or other local stores/companies that offer freebies.
- Checkout all the Smithsonian Museums! They’re free.
- Instead of immediately buying new things, check with friends and family to see if anyone wants to swap clothes or goods.
- If you’re not big on cooking or don’t have as much time, partner with a friend or a neighborhood to do a cooking-share.
- Got an instrument you haven’t played in a while? A cheap hobby you’ve let fall to the wayside? Pick them up in your spare time to reduce the urge to go out to the mall or a restaurant.
- When shopping for groceries, try the cheapest brands FIRST. If you don’t like them, you can always try something else on the next trip. But if you do like them, you’ve reduced the temptation of falling in love with a more expensive brand.
- Give homemade gifts.
- Grow your own herbs. They’re easy to grow and maintain, especially in small spaces.
- If you have a car, clean it yourself rather than taking it to a car wash or detailer.
- Get rid of Living Social and Groupon. Unless you’re a really disciplined person, these discount sites can really bite you in the butt. Most people load up on too many deals and never use them. If you use these sites, set limits on how many deals you can buy.
- Use cash. We notice that if we only take cash to the store, we’re more likely to think about what we’re spending. Debit and credit cards are nice, but they encourage overspending because of how easy they are to use.
- Cancel memberships and subscriptions you don’t use or need.
- When you buy perishable items, make several meals out of them so they won’t go bad.
- If you’re having trouble with late fees, set up automated payments to avoid wasting the money and write down on a calendar when you expect a payment to come out of your account and subtract the amount in your check register to ensure that you don’t spend it.
- Old t-shirts make great cleaning rags. This can help reduce the amount of disposable waste like paper towels.
- Be honest with your friends/family about your budget. If they’re not supportive, they’re probably not people you want to hang with regularly anyway. ::shrugs::
- Learn the basics of using a needle and thread to mend your own clothes.
- We both enjoy cooking, but we know there are days when we’re lazy and would rather have chipotle. Make sure you have some easy meals on hand that won’t require too much prep or cook time. This minimizes the temptation to go to Chipotle.
- Keep a record of your grocery spending. We spent $81 bucks on our last big grocery shop, but we know we can spend less. We wrote the total on a wipe board to remind us that we’re trying to reduce that number.
- If you’re giving yourself the freedom to see movies or shows, try to get tickets to the matinee showing. And look for free tickets for advance showings.
- Get over Starbucks. It’s expensive, and it’s not that good anyway (that’s what we tell ourselves).
- Volunteer at shelters or soup kitchens. There’s something about seeing people in times of distress that remind you to be giving and grateful for what you have.
- Crockpots are the bomb.com. Use it often to make cheap meals that stretch over multiple days.
- Plan a weekly menu. We plan to do a “big cook” every Sunday where we prepare meals that are more time consuming. We also include a couple quick meals each week that wont require more than 30-45min to prepare.
- There are tons of inexpensive ways to make your own beauty products, if you choose. Pure Skin has great recipes for body scrubs, etc. Check it out from your library.
- Search meetup.com for opportunities to find free events or activities that you might be interested in.
- Look into your local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) options. Sometimes, it is much cheaper than buying fresh produce in the grocery store. But do your research!! Not all CSAs are affordable or well-run.
- Unsubscribe from the mailing lists of your favorite stores. I swear Forever 21, City Sports, and Under Armour were out to get us! Had to let them go.
- Use Google Reader, or some other RSS feed service, to keep track of blogs that help you stay motivated to save and spend less. It’s a simple way to sort through blog posts that will be help you manage time on your daily grind. If you need help setting it up, let’s us know. We both use it for professional and personal purposes.
- Declutter. If you know what you have, you’re less likely to buy duplicates.
- Take an inventory of the cupboards and fridge before going to the grocery store to know exactly how much stuff is already there.
- Shop in bulk….if it makes sense for your household. Buying in bulk isn’t always cost effective. Find out what is and only buy those things.
- Set up automatic deposits into a savings account.
- If traveling and need to stay at a hotel, rent a car, etc., try Hotwire. Sure, you don’t know what you’ll get ahead of time, but you can save up to 80% per transaction.
- Set up some type of financial tools and use them. Check them weekly to see where your money went. Reese set an alert on her calendar to check her mint.com account every Sunday. Ricks gets a weekly summary from Mint.com
- This is the BIG ONE: continuously work on changing your mindset. You’re not depriving yourself. You’re living within your means.
We started a Facebook group for people who are serious about getting rid of debt, spending wisely, and saving more. If you’re interested in joining it, send us an email or let us know through our Facebook fan page!
Until next time,